Planning decision delays continue due to staff shortage at St Albans council
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Consultants are still being used to tackle a backlog of planning applications as a shortage of staff at the district council means delayed decisions continue.
The problem was raised at a recent St Albans council cabinet meeting, where figures showed that the overall percentage of planning decisions meeting deadline had dropped from 71 to 67 per cent over a 12-month period since last October.
It is well known that St Albans has among the largest number of applications in the country.
And four months ago, the Herts Advertiser revealed that St Albans district council was engaging an external firm to process schemes and keep pace with demand as there was not enough staff to cope.
The decline in performance prompted Cllr Chris White to ask cabinet whether councillors were confident additional staff would help the authority meet its decision target in the next quarter.
You may also want to watch:
Chairman, Cllr Julian Daly, replied: “We have had a blitz on to shift some of the older [schemes]. What I’m concerned about is our ability to recruit the right quality of planners.”
He said that although cabinet had approved funding for hiring more staff to clear the backlog and meet scheme determination targets, “getting the right people is an issue.
- 1 Farewell Paddington! Time for St Albans stalwart to say his goodbyes
- 2 Revealed: Hertfordshire's most expensive villages
- 3 National Hospitality Day: 'Per Tutti means everyone is welcome'
- 4 Help reunite toy milk jug with new owner
- 5 Traffic chaos caused by Redbourn Road works
- 6 Harpenden Food and Drink Festival returns after six years
- 7 Phantoms of the railway - the ghost lines of Welwyn and Harpenden
- 8 St Albans mum tells son's story in new book
- 9 Area Guide: The quaint Hertfordshire village of Piccotts End
- 10 Picture special: Pub in the Park returns to St Albans
“It may take longer to settle the whole thing down than we would hope.”
Cllr Daly said that other local authorities were suffering similar problems.
According to a council report, for the calendar year so far - January 1 to October 31 - there were 160 more planning applications received, and 177 more decisions made than the same time last year.
While there were 270 schemes lodged in September this year, that figure jumped to 308 in October.
The issue of planning and building control staffing levels has been discussed by councillors throughout the year.
In October, cabinet had agreed to increase the overall number of staff employed to include four new full-time equivalent posts in planning.